Hobbes and the Hypothetical Contract
In dealing with the problem with political authority Thomas Hobbes proposes that state’s derive their power from a hypothetical social contract that is made between a government and its citizens. It attempts to solve the problem with political legitimacy and political obligation; the right to rule and the reason citizens obey those in power. Hobbes believes that the only way to get out of a wild and unjust “state of nature” is to collectively give up some of our rights in order to secure more basic inalienable rights that will be accepted by all because they have all consented to a “contract”; to do otherwise would mean punishment by those elected to arbitrate the social contract.
In order to arrive at this social contract, Hobbes constructs a “state of nature” where there are humans in a world without government. There is no law of the land and there is no justice. Without a central authority people would inevitably harm, kill, and steal from each other. Hobbes then goes on to state that since everyone would be so worried about being killed or stolen from, nobody would produce a large amount of goods because they would be stolen. As a result, everyone would be reduced to poverty.
In this state of nature disputes would arise between neighbors and strangers alike and these small disputes would eventually lead to warfare because there is no neutral third-party to be the deciding factor. Hobbes believes that a social contract would be arrived at because of four guiding principles.
The first is that there is equality of power in regards to strength and intelligence. He claims that there is no one who is so strong and intelligent that he cannot be overwhelmed by the collective desire or larger group of people.
The second is that there is an equality of need. Everyone in the state of nature has the exact same needs for survival (food, clothing, shelter, water).
From the second principle he derives the...
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